Sunday, August 28, 2011
The Assessment of Blame: In Bush Versus Obama, The Villain is Clear
A new poll by the Associated Press reveals that 51% of Americans now believe that President George Bush is primarily responsible for the current dicey economic situation in the United States. The balance of the poll shows that 31% of polled individuals believe that President Barack Obama is responsible for the current states of affairs.
As noted in the name of this blog, I am liberal to my core and generally devote myself to the democratic and liberal framework. At the same time, I am a realist who likes to think that I approach all things political with an open mind. I have to say, however, that that I do not agree in the least with these poll numbers. The blame is clearly Bush’s alone.
What republicans fail to understand when it comes to our current economic landscape are two essential concepts: “what might have been” and responsibility at inception of the crisis. Perhaps it is because they are overly rigid in their thinking or maybe it is because they cannot think in any manner that will defy their own cause. In any case, their failure to understand these concepts mean that they will never really understand what has happened over the last 10 years.
Concept number one as listed above is “what might have been”. When Obama took office in January of 2009, he fairly quickly drafted the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (which was actually signed into law in the spring of 2010). Not only was this act widely decried by republicans at the time of signature, but its efficacy continues to be doubted by them today. This act, also commonly referred to as The Stimulus Plan, has actually been proven by leading economists to have been effective in stemming the tide of economic disaster. The key to their assessment is the theory that sans the stimulus plan, the actual effects of the downward fiscal pattern (e.g., unemployment, foreclosure rates, loan defaults) would have been much more serious without this measure.
Imagine a patient that has cancer and the doctor prescribes chemotherapy and radiation as treatment. The patient undergoes this line of treatment and is generally well for 36 months. At that time, things take a turn for the worse and the patient ends up dying as a result of the cancer. The question is this: Did the treatment work? Yes, it did. It worked because for three years the patient was primarily healthy and functioning. Was it a cure-all? Obviously not. However, without the treatment the patient would have likely died within the first 6 to 9 months. Just because the ARRA did not leave us all employed millionaires with robust portfolios does not mean that it did not work.
The second piece that republicans fail to understand is that the fact of the matter is that George Bush was behind the wheel of this bus as it veered off course and headed straight towards a fiscal cliff. Chief bipartisan economists directly point to the timeline of this crisis which began under the watch of Bush and seemed to have started with the bursting of the housing bubble. That was due to the rise of sub-prime mortgages, which began in the mid 2000s.
This, my friends, was under the watch of George Bush and was a result of deregulation. Who was behind that? Ronald Reagan and varying other republicans through the decades. They put in place an economic house of cards that was doomed to collapse and that occurred while Bush was in office. He did nothing to stop this, even as his advisers warned of impending fiscal doom.
The fact that Obama was elected in the middle of a disaster does not make him responsible for the debacle. Republicans continue to want to pin this on him and as we approach Election 2012 we need to keep reminding voters of the truth of the matter. We need to not allow their hysteria and sound bites and revision of history changed the facts of the matter.
This topic will definitely be at the forefront of attacks on Obama over the course of the next 15 months. Vigilant liberals need to make sure that the responsibility for this economic nightmare is place squarely where it belongs: On the shoulders of George Bush. Further, they need to be reminded that without the stimulus package the results would have been even more devastating. The bottom line is that the stimulus worked and another round would do our economy a world of good.